Let God Handle It

Posted: October 29, 2009 in 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 24-25, “Let God Handle It”
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How do you respond when someone comes against you? We’ve all experienced injustice at times – and we get justifiably angry. The fact that we’re angry is normal; how we handle that anger matters greatly. Do we respond by trying to get even? Do we try to puff up our own reputation? Or do we show mercy to those who have wronged us? We ought to show mercy & allow God to handle it in the way He so chooses.

David is going to encounter 2 events in Ch 24-25 in which he is absolutely wronged, and in the world’s eyes, he would have been justified in exacting his own revenge… In one instance, he immediately shows grace – in the other, he eventually gets around to it…but in both cases, God is the One who delivers David, and because of the grace of God, David is able to extend that same grace to others.

1 Samuel 24 (NKJV)
1 Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats.

A. When we last left David & Saul, Saul was closing in for the capture by surrounding David’s army. Things looked pretty bleak until God sent the Philistines to invade the land, which forced Saul to leave David alone for a bit. (Amazing that God would use a pagan attack in that way – but God is God!) So David escaped by the hand of God, and he ends up in the Wilderness of En Gedi. [Map]

B. Saul is obsessed with David! He can’t wait to try to kill him…as soon as he gets done with one battle & receives information on where David may be, he sets his army out again to capture him. The numbers are pretty overwhelming here. David has about 600 men in his army; Saul has 3000. Saul’s playing for keeps!
__a. It doesn’t matter how much we try to fight against the will of God; God’s will is always going to be done. Saul was fighting against the will of God & that’s always a losing battle…
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3 So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. ( David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) 4 Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

A. David couldn’t be in a more advantageous situation here. Here he is hiding in the caves, and not only has Saul’s spies not found him, King Saul himself comes into the very cave David is hiding in, in order to go to the bathroom. Saul is (to put it mildly) is a very compromised position, and David could have killed him at any moment.

B. But note that David does NOT kill Saul! Instead, he cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe (which was probably lying on the floor of the cave). Keep in mind this has some significance – the robe is what Saul laid hold of for Samuel when the kingdom was being ripped away from him (1 Sam 15:27). The robe was the symbol of power & authority for a person – and by cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe, David was not only giving Saul a warning, but it showed that the kingly authority had been taken from Saul & given to David. … In any case, David showed much mercy! Instead of taking vengeance upon his enemy, David refrains & just shows what could-have happened.

C. Had David actually received a prophecy about this day? Apparently some word of the Lord had been given to David at some point – but there’s a bit of ambiguity of what it means. Was it a reference to Saul? Another enemy in the future? David does do “as seems good” – but what was good was showing mercy & relying upon the hand of God to make things right.
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5 Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 And he said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.

A. Why did it trouble David? Because of what it implied. David was not the one taking the kingdom away from Saul; that was God. Just in the symbolism, David’s heart struck him…which speaks immensely of the integrity David had.

B. Question: was it David’s duty to remove Saul from the throne of Israel? After all, David was already anointed to be king. No. God placed Saul on the throne; God would be the One to take him out… …
__a. If we want to defend ourselves, God is going to let us. But how much better it is when we let God be our defense! Psalm 7:9-10 (9) Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. (10) My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart. [] (Written about another Benjamite.) God knows what we’re going through – God knows what is right & just…we can trust Him!

C. People need to be careful about stretching out your hand against the Lord’s anointed! Be careful not to mislabel here…who’s the Lord’s anointed? The Lord Jesus…the Christ/Messiah! How would someone do this today? Look no further than Saul/Paul … (Acts 9:4, “why are you persecuting Me?”) Those who persecute the church are persecuting Jesus Christ…
__a. To a lesser extent, Christians might be guilty of a similar sin when we stir up divisions among one another. Our Lord Jesus prayed that His church would be united (John 17:21)… When we purposefully cause division, we’re coming against the Lord’s desire for His church; we’re rebelling against Jesus Himself. …
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8 David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down.

A. Note the respect. This was a man trying to kill David…

B. David responds in humility with Saul. David’s not going to be perfect in this area, but at least here he’s a good example.
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9 And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? 10 Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’ 11 Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it.

A. Basically tells Saul, “You’re listening to lies about me – and here’s the proof!”…

B. David wasn’t the one sinning against Saul; Saul was the one sinning against David.
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12 Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? 15 Therefore let the LORD be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.”

A. Let the LORD judge… Amen! When God judges, it’s always right…
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16 So it was, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 Then he said to David: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. 18 And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the LORD delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.

A. Saul wept, but did Saul mean it? Hard to say…Saul had certainly been given to emotional fits before. At the very least, we know that his grief was only temporary due to the face that he would continue to persecute David…
__a. Saul had emotion; he didn’t have a Godly reason for that emotion. I.e., he was sad, but it was a sadness over worldly things – he got caught. Godly sorrow leads to repentance… (2 Cor 7:10)

B. At this point, even Saul publicly acknowledges that David will be the next king…

C. BTW – this is how we should want our enemies to speak of us. That they would see our good conduct and be ashamed of how they reviled us (1 Pet 3:16). We are to let our light so shine before them that they can’t help but glorify God (Matt 5:16).
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21 Therefore swear now to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s house.” 22 So David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

A. David had made a similar promise with Jonathan – and he was good to his word. Most of Saul’s household will die, not due to David, but due to the sins of Saul himself.
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1 Samuel 25 (NKJV)
1 Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran.

A. Passing of Samuel… Last of the judges…this was the end of an era. Anointed both Saul & David… Samuel seemed to have a lot of regret over Saul – but he also knew of God’s solution. Although he didn’t live to see David crowned king, he knew that God had provided the right king for the nation.

B. Why didn’t David go to the funeral? Most likely because he was still running from Saul…
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2 Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb.

A. Their names are interesting here & plays into the Scripture. Nabal = “fool”… Abigail = “source of joy”… Both are definitely going to live up to their names…

B. On the surface, Nabal had it all. He came from a great family – “He was of the house of Caleb,” & he was “very rich…” Neither served him well! Good family lineages don’t guarantee anything. Nabal is absolutely nothing like his ancestor! Nor did his riches give him the wisdom he needed…
__a. It’s the opposite for us, isn’t it? We come from nowhere (we’re dead in our sins), and we have nothing to offer God (filthy rags), but in Christ we’re given everything!
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4 When David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep, 5 David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. 6 And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: ‘Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have! 7 Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David.’ ”

A. Gotta understand the culture here. These were dangerous times in Israel – bands of Philistines would come in and raid towns (1 Sam 23:1), among other bandits & robbers. On top of it, there didn’t seem to be a regular police force…just soldiers for Saul’s army (who were routinely searching for David). If a warrior wasn’t with Saul, he’d work in someone else’s service – such as David’s 600 mighty men. How does a warrior survive? 2 ways: (1) plunder after a battle, and (2) grateful payment from those whom they protected. Apparently, David’s men had protected Nabal’s servants & flocks, and David is asking for some provisions for his men. Especially with the timing around a feast day, Nabal should have had no problem giving some food away.
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9 So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited. 10 Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?”

A. Was Nabal grateful? No! He was rude & insulting. David was well-known as the son-in-law to the king (and the conqueror of Goliath), and yet Nabal treats him with absolute disdain, using the same insults on him that Saul did.

B. Nabal doesn’t even respond out of basic compassion. To him, he had earned everything he had (no credit to God), and he didn’t want to share with anyone – especially the stranger (who really weren’t strangers at all).

C. People respond to the Son of David with similar disdain today… They absolutely revile Jesus Christ… They have no clue Who it is they insult…
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12 So David’s young men turned on their heels and went back; and they came and told him all these words. 13 Then David said to his men, “Every man gird on his sword.” So every man girded on his sword, and David also girded on his sword. And about four hundred men went with David, and two hundred stayed with the supplies.

A. David’s response? Understandable anger…

B. Is this something David should have done? Probably not. God is definitely going to use this & there’s much we can learn in the process – but David had already been humble with Saul & allowed God to be his defense; David should have done the same thing here. (And God is going to teach him exactly that.)
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14 Now one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master; and he reviled them. 15 But the men were very good to us, and we were not hurt, nor did we miss anything as long as we accompanied them, when we were in the fields. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and day, all the time we were with them keeping the sheep. 17 Now therefore, know and consider what you will do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his household. For he is such a scoundrel that one cannot speak to him.”

A. Servants warn Abigail – they’re rightly afraid for their lives…

B. How sad is it that Nabal’s own servants can’t even talk sense to him? It’s one thing when it’s David’s men; it’s another thing when it’s the people that Nabal knows.
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18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 And she said to her servants, “Go on before me; see, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 So it was, as she rode on the donkey, that she went down under cover of the hill; and there were David and his men, coming down toward her, and she met them.

A. Was Abigail being deceptive? Some think so; I disagree. She didn’t tell her husband, but she was trying to save his life, her life, and the lives of all their household. This was a debt both of them owed, and she’s taking care of it. In the end, she DID tell her husband; it was just after everything was resolved.
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21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good. 22 May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.” [Planning on a total massacre!]

23 Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground. 24 So she fell at his feet and said: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. 25 Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.

A. Abigail responds in humility…

B. Abigail responds with responsibility… Had she actually sinned? No – but she’s willing to take the punishment that her husband deserved.
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26 Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, since the LORD has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal. 27 And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28 Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the LORD, and evil is not found in you throughout your days.

A. What’s she doing here? Interceding for her house…

B. This is what intercession is all about! God righteously judges a people, and others stand in the gap pleading for them, asking God to show His mercy and grace. This is exactly what happened with Abraham & Sodom… [Gen 18] When we’re interceding for the lost, this is the same thing. They rightly deserve the judgment and wrath of God, but we’re interceding for their souls in the name of Jesus Christ & asking God to save them in His mercy & grace…
__a. The question sometimes comes up: “If God could just save someone, why doesn’t He just do it, rather than waiting on someone to pray?” First of all, God CAN save anyone He wants, and He often does so without us…we haven’t a clue this side of Heaven how many He’s saved by sheer revelation apart from any of us. But that aside, the fact is God invites us to pray – He wants us to pray. It’s not a “have-to” pray for the lost; it’s a “get-to” pray & intercede for the lost!
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29 Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling. 30 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, 31 that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”

A. Abigail is speaking with a lot of faith here! She’s confident in what the Lord is teaching David, and that it is God Himself keeping David from doing something he’d regret later.

B. Basically pleading to have mercy shown to her house both now & after David is enthroned as king. Quite the opposite from Nabal who refused to even recognize David as the next king.
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32 Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33 And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. 34 For indeed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!”

A. David receives her gift & her intercession…

B. David recognizes that Abigail’s coming was by the hand of the Lord, who stopped him from shedding blood.
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35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person.” 36 Now Abigail went to Nabal, and there he was, holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light. 37 So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone.

A. Picture the scene. Nabal had refused to even give the barest provisions to David’s men, but he’s partying in his house living it up while his own wife is pleading for his life. Abigail gets back, waits until he’s sober, and then tells him how close he came to death. Apparently it was such a shock that he had a stroke on the spot!
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38 Then it happened, after about ten days, that the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.

A. God avenged David! …
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39 So when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and has kept His servant from evil! For the LORD has returned the wickedness of Nabal on his own head.” And David sent and proposed to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David had come to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her saying, “David sent us to you, to ask you to become his wife.” 41 Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, “Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42 So Abigail rose in haste and rode on a donkey, attended by five of her maidens; and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife.

A. Now that Nabal the fool is dead, David sends for Abigail to be his wife. She once was bound to a “harsh & evil” man, but now she will be married to the future king of Israel! … Reminiscent of Romans 7, where the wife dies to the law that held her & is bound to Jesus Christ in new life and freedom… Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. []

B. Abigail is such a righteous woman! She’s still responding to David in such humility… Isn’t that how we’re supposed to respond to our king? He’s our friend & brother (praise the Lord!), but He’s also our Lord & Master. We come boldly before the throne of grace, but we still come humbly in reverent submission to our God.
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43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and so both of them were his wives. 44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

A. Polygamy is never condoned in Scripture; it’s just recorded. David (like his sons) participated in it freely…

B. One more act of insult from Saul here. David had won the right of marriage to Michal by killing Goliath & bringing back 200 foreskins of the Philistines. But Saul here tries to cut all family ties with David by forcing David’s wife (Saul’s daughter) into adultery (no divorce).

Conclusion:
It’s not a question of whether or not someone will come against us unjustly; it’s simply a question of when. Maybe it’ll be in your job as people play office politics – maybe it’ll be in your home with a jealous family member – maybe it’ll even be against your faith in the Lord Jesus. Whatever it is, and whenever it happens, there’s no doubt that at some point we’re going to be tempted to take things into our own hands & seek revenge.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, that’s no longer your job! You were bought with a price and you belong to the King of Kings & Lord of Lords. So may we follow His word in handling injustice – let Him handle it in His wisdom.

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